Are you thinking about taking the GRE to get into business school?
As we’ve discussed in previous articles, most top business schools consider the GRE and the GMAT to be equivalent tests these days. But regardless of which test you choose to take, you still need to focus on getting the best score possible.
Our previous articles in the GRE series have given you an intro to the test and helped you look at whether you are ready to take the GRE. But what if you’re just starting to prepare for the GRE?
With these tips, you can stop worrying and get to studying.
1. Get comfortable with computerized adaptive testing – Unlike the GMAT, the GRE allows you to skip questions within a single section and come back to them before moving on to the next section. Computerized testing is more familiar than it used to be for many students, but if you’ve been out of school for a while or you just aren’t sure you’re totally comfortable with a computer-based test, make sure you get some exposure to the GRE format before the day of the test.
2. Know what you need to memorize – Memorization shouldn’t be one of your most-used strategies, but it definitely has its place when it comes to preparing for the GRE. There are no formulas provided on the quantitative test, so memorizing basic formulas is a must for that section. Similarly, memorizing important roots from Latin and Greek can take you a long way when it comes to tricky vocab on the verbal section.
3. Create and follow a study plan – Your GRE study plan can be as detailed or as casual as you like, but at the very minimum you need to commit to studying at specific times and for specific durations. Especially for MBA candidates who have already entered the workforce, finding time to study can be incredibly challenging. If you want to get a good score on the GRE, you have to commit to studying.
4. Tackle your test anxiety – Test anxiety is a huge issue plaguing students, from the earliest levels of school to the highest. There are two main approaches to combating test anxiety: confidence and calmness. You can build your confidence by learning as much as you can, and committing fully to your study schedule. To build your calmness, try making positive associations with studying for the GRE: studying in a peaceful location, treating yourself to a favorite food during study sessions, or giving yourself a reward when you’ve completed a chapter in your GRE prep book.
5. Start at the beginning – Don’t start working on the GRE quantitative section by focusing on the trickiest concepts. You’ll only frustrate and confuse yourself. Instead, make sure all your foundational skills are solid before moving on. You’ll get through the material quickly, get yourself adjusted to the studying process, and lay a confident foundation for tackling more troublesome material.
6. Don’t forget to drill – Efficiency and accuracy are the keys to your success. And the way you get there is through practice – lots of it. Keep doing GRE practice questions and drills until answering them is second nature for you.
7. Don’t go it alone – Consider taking a GRE prep class, hiring a tutor, or joining a study group. Even if you feel like you’re doing well on your own, even spending a couple of weeks bouncing ideas off of others can be a huge relief. You may be surprised by how great it is to spend time with people who can empathize with what you’re working toward!
8. Practice makes perfect – The day of the test should absolutely not be the first time you sit through a full three-plus hour computer test. ETS, the makers of the GRE, offer free software that includes two free full-length practice GRE tests, so there’s no excuse for not getting in some experience with the real thing.
9. Leave time for review – Don’t try to pull an overnight cram session in the days leading up to the test. But do schedule time for leisurely review, especially of those concepts you worked on at the very beginning of your study calendar. The goal is for everything you studied to be fresh in your mind the day of the test, without leaving yourself exhausted and burnt out.
10. Look out for number one – It can be tempting to burn the candle at both ends to maximize your study time, especially if you have a lot going on while you are preparing for the GRE (like final exams or a full time job). But you won’t be doing yourself any favors when you’re exhausted and overwhelmed on test day. Get plenty of rest, exercise, and good food throughout your study period, and you’ll be much better off for the test and for your daily life.
Once you’ve finished studying and gotten a good score on the GRE, it’s time to focus on the rest of your application. MBA admissions committees want to know why you are a good fit for their school.
A free MBA application assessment from EXPARTUS can give you insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your application package, and show you how to define your personal brand in a way that makes sense to application committees. Get in touch today, and we’ll get you on track for business school.